Telecommunications is not Communications, or am I getting OTT

Some things annoy me. One thing that really annoys me is when people use the word communications, when they mean telecommunications.

In my (not) humble opinion, telecommunications is about the transport of a set of well defined “inputs”, from a user selected input point, to a user defined output point, to an agreed quality of service.

Communications is about how one gets an idea from inside one’s head into the head of some-one else. It is about the selection of symbols that, to the originator, convey the idea. Hopefully that selection of symbols conveys the same idea to the receiver.

Picking a font for this web page is a communications issue, deciding whether to write in English, Welsh or German is a communications issue. Such factors affect how well my idea is conveyed to the audience.

Communications is about meaning, content, syntax, semantics and symbols.

Telecommunciations is about moving symbols from A to B, and does not get involved in the meaning, content, syntax, semantics and symbols.

Telecommunications <> Communications.

Gods protect me (see p.s.)  from hearing more people talk about OTT (Over The Top) service providers. OTT is a common expression in the telecommunications service provider world to describe companies such as WhatsApp and Skype: companies that receive a media stream from one user and pass it on to one or more other users.

In some cases companies such as NetFlix and other media providers, who do not “interconnect” users to one another, are also called OTT.

In all cases (WhatsApp, Skype, NetFlix…) the OTT players and the users pay for their Internet access. Never-the-less, the telecommunications service providers (i.e. the people who basically set the prices that the users pay) complain about the OTT players making money off the back of the telecommunications service providers. Hmm, that always was the purpose of telecommunications. The good old VPC equation.

                       V > P > C

The value of a telecommunications service should be higher to the user than the price that he must pay for the service. The price of the service must be higher that the cost of providing that service.

OTT’s are seen by most telecommunications service providers as free-loaders riding on the back of the telecommunications service providers.

Of course, they conveniently forget that the Internet was providing E-Mail and Chat services long before the telecommunications providers introduced SMS’.  Oh my, how we do twist the truth to suit our purposes. Or am I getting a bit OTT myself.

p.s. I am a fan of that dearly missed author, Terry Pratchett. Hence the “Gods“.

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